The state legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing has advanced legislation, filed by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), to create a task force to improve the safety of elderly and disabled persons living in public housing.
In January of last year, three North Andover seniors, Walter Hamilton, 78, George Kettinger, Jr., 79, and Francis Kort, 68, were murdered in their public housing complex at Foulds Terrace. In response to the tragedy, at the beginning of the legislative session, DiZoglio filed legislation, House Bill 1094, An Act establishing a task force on elderly and disabled persons residing in public housing.
The task force outlined in the legislation would advise the Secretaries of Housing and Economic Development and Health and Human Services on best practices to ensure the safety and welfare of the elderly and disabled in public housing, including investigating efforts to maximize overall facility and individual apartment safety and security.
DiZoglio’s bill received endorsements from the North Andover and Haverhill Housing Authorities, as well as Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, which presented testimony at the legislation’s public hearing held last summer before the committee.
“This legislation marks the first step in what I hope to be a forceful, comprehensive effort by citizens, not only in North Andover but across the Commonwealth, to protect our seniors and disabled persons residing in public housing,” said DiZoglio. “We can and must do better to protect the safety and welfare of this vulnerable population and I look forward to advocating over the days and weeks to come in further advancing this bill.”
“I am very pleased to see Representative DiZoglio’s hard working in sponsoring in crafting this bill move to an important next step,” said Rosanne DiStefano, Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley. “The Representative took a thoughtful approach and spent countless hours in meeting with constituents. We all need to ensure that the sad and unfortunate incident that occurred in North Andover doesn’t happen again anywhere and this task force is the first step to get to this peace of mind.”
“Representative DiZoglio’s housing legislation is so vitally important to the health and welfare of all persons living in housing,” said Cathy Hoog, Executive Director of the North Andover Housing Authority. “If passed, this task force could advise on best practices and advocate for supportive services funding in the housing authority industry. Mixed populations in any close living environment is challenging. A difference can be made with supportive services that provide those in need with continued care and support to maintain the healthiest life possible.”
“This can be an easy issue to overlook when it’s not in the news anymore, but thanks to Rep. DiZoglio, our residents will be much safer and have the peace of mind that comes from feeling much safer in their homes,” said Joseph A. Hart, Executive Director, Haverhill Housing Authority.